By Sophie Brigstocke
This week the press reported a legal case involving a young woman who has agoraphobia. In advance of her birth her NHS care providers went to court to get legal consent to transfer her to hospital (against her wishes and with “proportionate” force) prior to labour. Whilst we can only rely on the media story being presented in this case it follows rather worryingly close to another similar situation just a couple of months ago involving another person with agoraphobia making a choice to birth their baby at home against the recommendations of medics. Birthrights, one of two brilliant charities supporting people around their legal rights in birth, wrote this blog about the case.
As a doula I feel incredibly saddened by these two stories. It feels like we are in a culture of fear and coercion when a birthing person’s feelings and instincts are not respected. When I think of someone being forcibly removed from their safe space into an unfamiliar environment I am chilled – it calls to mind historical images of people manacled and restrained during birth. I am wondering who is in the birthing person’s corner? These stories also raise questions about the future of birth in the UK, especially homebirth.
There is, and has been, a lot of fear around homebirth over the past few decades. It’s extraordinary to think that just 75 years ago it was considered the norm to birth your baby at home, and if stories written from the time are to be believed, that there was a lot of fear about having to go to hospital or a maternity home to labour. It’s funny how quickly things can change. This week I will be chatting to midwife Kemi Johnson on a Facebook Live – we will attempt to bust a lot of the myths surrounding homebirth. I can’t wait to hear Kemi’s thoughts as she is known for her passion for physiological birth. Do come and join us on Wednesday at 4pm, or catch up later. If you have specific questions you would like me to ask Kemi do email or message me.
Ultimately, we need to remind ourselves that consent is essential when it comes to birth – it is our human right to birth where we choose. If you’d like to know more then you will enjoy
Nurturing Birth team member, and volunteer for AIMS, Emma Ashworth’s blog on the basics of consent in birth.
And if you want to read one of my longer pieces, originally written for the Journal of Holistic Healthcare, about physiology, homebirth and the doula’s role then do click here.
If your passion is piqued by these stories and they serve as yet another reminder of why you want to support people to have better experiences in the birth room then why not come and join one of our upcoming courses. Our full range of courses is available, from our online Distance, to our in-person Intensive and our deep-dive, Expansive course.
Wishing you a very safe week